By Amruta Kulkarni, CYT 500
Bhakti Yoga philosophy arises from the foundational teachings of Yoga that originated in India several thousand years ago. Ancient Vedic practitioners began writing down their experiences with the various practices of Yoga. The art and practice of Yoga became systematized when these seers began to realize that the scientific practice of a steady Yoga practice has predictable results on individuals. Ultimately the essential message of all Yogic practices is the process of coming to know one’s own inner divinity. This is the goal of all Yoga techniques, including Bhakti Yoga practices, union with God.
The branch of Yoga practice called Bhakti is based on love or devotion of the devotee for the immanent and transcendent divine. Bhakti Yoga is simply stated, the Yoga of devotion. The philosophy of Bhakti Yoga is based on the ancient Vedic teachings from India, including Narada’s Bhakti Sutras. The Bhakti Yoga Sutras emphasize love as a path to self-realization and oneness with God. There are a volumes of devotional poetry written by Bhakti Yoga practitioners such as Rumi, St. Teresa the Little Flower, John of the Cross and Mirabai. These poets describe the excruciating, bitter-sweet longing for union with the divine and the process of purification and merging into God.
Bhakti Yoga philosophy and methodology do not exclude any religion, deity or Guru. This practice is compatible with a wide variety of religious traditions, particularly the mystical side of many major religions including Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. These different religions are like spokes on a wheel, that all lead to the same place, the place of pulsating divine love within our own beings. The devotional practices and philosophies of Bhakti Yoga can be applied in any spiritual context. The outer forms and rituals may differ, but the essence remains the same, merging into the divine heart of God.
Bhakti Yoga philosophy gives transcendent beacons of light as we walk through this world. These teachings are powerful tools to aligning our hearts and minds with God’s love and grace. Bhakti Yoga philosophies arose several thousand years ago in ancient India from the spiritual insights and experiences of dedicated students of Yoga. The philosophies and teachings of Bhakti Yoga help to guide the ardent devotee in his or her spiritual quest to know God intimately. Through the steadfast practice of Bhakti Yoga and the application of the philosophies of this spiritual path, a devotee ultimately merges into the essence of God.
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